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SCOTT JAGOW: Oil companies have had quite a time trying to business in the Niger Delta.Locals have attacked pipelines and kidnapped workers, their way of saying ‘we want a bigger share of the oil riches.’ Things got so bad last year, the Shell oil company shut down more than half its operations in Nigeria. But now it says it’s going back to full production within six months.Our correspondent Stephen Beard is with us. Stephen, why does the company think its safer now?

STEPHEN BEARD: Shell says that it’s done a deal with communities in the delta. It’s agreed to pump more money into the communities, and it also points to the fact that though there is still violence and there is still unrest in the delta, it has subsided. There’s been a long history of a very strong feeling in that region that local people are not deriving any of the benefit of this oil wealth and all they get in return is pollution.

JAGOW: So if Shell is able to do this, how might this affect the world oil market?

BEARD: It will certainly have an effect on the oil market. We’re talking about half a million barrels of oil a day and very good quality oil. This is the so-called sweet crude, which doesn’t require a lot of refining. Quite a lot of this winds up in the United States, so it certainly should ease some of the supply pressures.

JAGOW: Now it sounds like Shell might be confident about getting back into these oil fields, but how about other people in the region? Do they feel the same way?

BEARD: There are some analysts here in London who are surprised by the level of Shell’s optimism, pointing out that though the violence does seem to have subsided in the delta, there is still a lot of political tension. The country is two or three weeks away from elections, so politically the atmosphere is still fairly fraught.

JAGOW: Alright Stephen, thank you.

BEARD: OK Scott.

JAGOW: Stephen Beard in London.

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